Be safe with an enduring power of attorney

In Queensland, there is no automatic appointment of a person to assume control of the financial matters or affairs of an adult with impaired capacity.

A family member can only administer the financial affairs of an adult who has lost capacity (“the principal”) if either: 

Consider the case of a busy and successful plumber who had not made an EPA. He suffered brain damage in a work-related accident and became incapacitated.

His wife had no authority to operate on her husband’s business accounts. As a consequence, she could not access funds in his account and was therefore unable to meet his business expenses and mortgage payments as they fell due.

This situation, could have been avoided if an EPA had been put in place with savings of stress, time, costs and uncertainty.

An EPA should be viewed as an insurance policy. It is there for the protection of the principal if unfortunate events occur.

However an EPA can also be a tool of financial abuse and it’s often older people who are the victims.
People who are appointed by an EPA must know that they have an absolute and unconditional duty to act in the best interest of the person who appointed them.  

If an appointed person acts improperly, he or she can be held personally and criminally liable.

When making an EPA you can take precautions to prevent such abuse, by considering the following:

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you don’t have an Enduring Power of Attorney, act now to put one in place as you don’t know what’s around the corner.

John Ker was admitted as a solicitor in 1967 and is a consultant to de Groots wills and estate lawyers.